Home is our safe haven, our place of peace and rest, where we live our days and nights and shut out the world (when we can). There’s no place we want and NEED to feel safe like our own homes, but are they as safe as we think they are? Studies have shown there can be hidden toxins in your home that you may not be aware of. Careful research has proven what substances are there and where they come from. We will take a look at some of these items and the toxins they contain. A safe home is an informed home!
Mold is a terrible toxin and one that occurs far more easily and frequently than you might think. It only takes anywhere from 24 to 48 hours for mold to grow, 3 to 12 days for the mold spores to colonize, and 3 weeks for you to actually see the mold after it has germinated. Being exposed to mold can cause people to cough, wheeze, and have throat and skin irritation. If you can stop mold in its early stages you can halt the spread. But if it has overtaken a large part of your home you will need to call in professionals to help remove it. Doing whatever you can to rid the air of moisture in your home will help prevent mold from forming.
Cleaning Household Products
- Fabric softeners are common for most people but they can include harmful chemicals like chloroform, ethanol, limonene, and benzyl alcohol. Not only are they harmful to humans, they can also harm the environment. There are safer ways to soften your clothes without harmful chemicals, even just adding baking soda and vinegar to your wash.
- Quaternary ammonium compounds are found in household cleaning products, those advertised as antibacterial, which are also qualified as pesticides. They provide strong sterilization properties but it is not necessary in most residential dwellings. These toxins can irritate the skin and lungs that can lead to asthma and skin conditions. Soap and water work just as well without the harmful health effects.
- Carpet cleaners, spot removers and dry cleaning materials contain perchloroethylene (perc), a known neurotoxin that the Environmental Protection Agency has labeled as a possible carcinogen. Inhaling the fumes of perc is the most common way of exposure. Fumes that are left from carpet cleaners or from clothes picked up from the dry cleaners are exposing people to perc. The EPA is doing its part to help and most machines that use perc are being phased out and will be completely banned from use by 2023.
- Sodium Hydroxide (known also as lye) is another toxic chemical found in typical household cleaners such as oven cleaners, solutions to open drains, petroleum products, dyes, paper and making soaps. Coming into contact with sodium hydroxide can cause really bad burns and inhalation can cause irritation of the nose, throat and airways. If your eyes come in contact with lye it can cause blindness. Baking soda is a safe, easy alternative to cleaners that contain sodium hydroxide/lye.
Perfumes And Air Fresheners
Perfumes and air fresheners have been in the news for awhile because of the potential harmful chemicals they contain, known as phthalates. There isn’t a law in place right now that requires fragrance and air freshener companies to list all the chemicals in their products. These phthalates can cause digestive issues, dizziness, headaches, and nausea along with those allergic to phthalates who experience more severe reactions. A safe, healthy alternative to these products are essential oils.
Babies don’t have fully developed immune systems. Their immune system doesn’t really mature until they are 3 months old and a child doesn’t develop a full immune system until they are 7-8 years of age. So toxic chemicals in baby products are alarming. Baby wipes have been known to contain Bronopol, which can be harmful to the skin, lungs and immune system. Some baby bottles and plastic toys contain BPA and this can affect a baby’s hormones, so look for all natural, BPA free items. Always check ALL ingredients on your children’s care items and do your research about what is good for them and what is not.
One of the worst toxin causing agents you will hear about in a home is found in insulation. For a long time asbestos, now commonly known as a carcinogin, was the key ingredient used to insulate homes. More current insulation is made from materials that are flame retardants. These are called brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and are supposed to keep your house protected from fire but are, in fact, toxic chemicals because they are known to cause cancer and impairments in the brain. There are healthy alternatives to these harmful kinds of insulation. Sheep’s wool, untreated, is a great choice for insulation and it also can filter out harmful toxins in the air of your home.
These are just a few of the many household products and items that can cause potential health problems if not resolved. ALWAYS do your own research, ALWAYS be aware of what you use and what is in your home, and ALWAYS do whatever you can to inform, educate and protect yourself and your family!!
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